End of Life Planning
End of life planning is a hard subject to talk about, but it’s even harder for loved ones to deal with the aftermath when your affairs are not in order. Here at Pink Warrior Angels, we not only want to embrace and encourage cancer patients and co-survivors, but we also want to inform and educate everyone. Our hope is that this blog helps you to at least start an important conversation with your loved ones.
1. Designating a Beneficiary
The first important topic we want to cover is beneficiaries. Designating a beneficiary ahead of time ensures that you can pass on your assets and that a loved one is able to clear up anything that may arise. Make sure all of your bank accounts have a direct beneficiary so that when need be the beneficiary can go to the bank with your death certificate and an ID of their own. Side note: adding a joint owner will allow access to the funds in the account if you choose to have your family use those funds to pay for funeral costs.
If you own a home an important document to fill out is the Transfer On Death (TOD) deed. This document allows you to transfer ownership of your home to your designee. All they need to do is take their ID and the death certificate to the county building and the deed is signed over; however, this varies from state to state. Completing this document and filing it with your county saves your heirs THOUSANDS of dollars. This will also avoid the home having to go through probate.
2. Declaring Wishes
The next few topics are in relation to declaring wishes and designating people and belongings. First, is the Living Will which allows one to put in writing exactly what you want to be done in the event you cannot speak for yourself when it comes to healthcare decisions. Next is Durable Power of Attorney which allows one to designate a person to make legal decisions if one is no longer competent to do so.
There is also the Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPA). This document allows one to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for their person. General Power of Attorney differs from durable because general only lasts while one is not competent whereas durable lasts until it is revoked. The Last Will and Testament are for designating to whom personal belongings will go. Finally, the Funeral Planning Declaration allows one to say exactly one’s wishes as far as the disposition of the body and the services.
If the above documents are done, you can AVOID probate. If all the above is not done, you have to open an estate account at the bank. All money that doesn’t have direct beneficiaries goes into this account. You have to have an attorney to open the estate account. The attorney also has to publicize your passing in the newspaper or post-publication at the county courthouse, to allow anyone to make a claim on your property. – It’s a complete PAIN.
3. Keep Track of Account Information
We recommend making a list of all banks and account numbers, all investment institutions with account numbers, lists of credit cards, utility accounts, etc. Leave clear instructions as to how and when these things are paid. Also, make sure heirs know where life insurance policies are located. Make 100% sure SOMEONE knows your Apple ID, bank ID account logins, and passwords! Keep up with titles for all vehicles, campers, etc!
4. Start the Conversation
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Have a conversation with those closest to you and make all your wishes known. Talk to those whom you’ve designated, as well as those close to you whom you did not designate. Do this to explain why your decisions were made and to avoid any lingering questions or hurt feelings.
This information is not legal advice, but it is from personal experiences within Pink Warrior Angels. Do the research and seek out legal advice before making any decisions. Hopefully, this helps light a spark to encourage all your friends and family to take care of these things to make it easier for those we all leave behind!